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Good foundations

New logo and identity for the McGrath Foundation by Hulsbosch

Before and after
Before and after

The McGrath Foundation has become one of Australia’s most recognised and respected charities, and was founded in 2005 by Australian cricket player, Glenn McGrath, and his late wife, Jane McGrath, following their very public experience with breast cancer. The charity raises money to place McGrath Breast Care Nurses in communities across Australia and to increase breast awareness in young people. Recently, the McGrath Foundation introduced a new identity designed by local brand agency Hulsbosch.

Identity introduction video
New McGrath Foundation logo by Hulsbosch
Logo detail

The bold new graphical element known as the “life force”…represents the continuing experience of all those touched by breast cancer and the optimism that is synonymous with the McGrath Foundation. A new colour palette evolves Jane McGrath’s favourite colour, pink. A moodier hot pink is paired with the richness of aubergine and secondary colours red, purple, soft blue and soft pink bring versatility and expressiveness to the McGrath Foundation look and feel.

McGrath Foundation statement

An obvious nod to cricket, the old logo featured three stumps and two balls stylised to represent two people/figures in embrace, conveying, I assume, the support offered to breast cancer patients. It was an admirable idea but I was always a bit unsettled by the inequality of two black stumps and only one pink stump. The “stitching” on the black ball only served to affirm the cricket reference – I don’t think it was entirely necessary but I wouldn’t upend a table over it. Rendering three pink stumps sans balls could have been just as memorable. Or the stumps could have represented the letter “M” in McGrath. Just a thought.

Speaking of letters, the accompanying type was set in three different styles for some reason. The brush script for the “M” in McGrath played well with the free-form, rounded nature of the graphic, and may have worked well for the entire word. It’s a shame that its warmth was fizzled by the sharp and pharmaceutical Americana Bold used for “cGrath”. The sans-serif used for “FOUNDATION” was fine, albeit too thin (and small) in proportion to the whole lockup.

As the first update to the brand since 2005, the new logo completely does away with its cricket image in favour of a warm and more readable solution without all the fuss. Its hook is the “life force”, that heart-shaped squiggle that continues the theme of “embrace”, but thankfully does so in a less literal manner. According to the foundation, an updated stumps logo will be used for cricket campaigns, but is yet to be seen in detail.

The type is set in Linotte Semi Bold and the family runs throughout the applications presented. It’s soft, it’s friendly, and matches the stroke qualities of the squiggle. Then there’s that “F” which sits on its own baseline. It’s distracting. I’m struggling to think of a good reason for that decision. Just let it be…

McGrath Foundation logo animation
Logo animation with “aww” factor

The flexibility of the squiggle becomes particularly evident in animations, as in the intro video, where it morphs into various graphics.

Logo variations and brand style cues
Logo variations and basic applications

The colour palette is well considered and, as in the intro video again, does a good job in conveying the spectrum of emotions felt by those affected by breast cancer. It’s lucky(?) that Jane’s favourite colour was pink, as there are few other sensible choices for an identity for a female-focused foundation. The primary pink has been updated to more of a “Britney-Spears-in-this-dress” kind of pink, which has a bit more flair than the standard issue pink of the previous logo.

Web presence and merchandise
Web presence and merchandise
Website before and after
Website before and after

In the print applications, where the magic of motion is lost, the squiggle approach becomes too simplistic and the execution appears lazy. At the very least, the graphics are consistent with the style of the logo.

Media backdrop
Media backdrop
"Life force" cutout for photos
A “life force” cutout for photos provides a point of engagement with the public

Overall, this is an improvement on what was previously just a logo. I should mention that the brand was created pro bono by Hulsbosch, so perhaps it wasn’t afforded as much attention as it could have been. That’s not a jab at Hulsbosch, though, who have been responsible for some of Australia’s leading brand identities.

The new logo is better for readability (despite that “F”) and reproduction, and the identity overall feels friendly and approachable, which is what I would expect. The approach in applications seems to shows its limits already, and while the squiggle could really be anything the designer can imagine, I wouldn’t expect to be dazzled in the future. For now, it works, it’s coherent, and perhaps for the target audience, it’s enough.